Editorial: A shameless, shameful deal by Blagojevich
How fitting it is that Rod Blagojevich soon will share a book publisher with famed New York Times fabricator Jayson Blair.
Our capacity for surprise at any action by our former governor expired long ago, so news of Blagojevich’s six-figure deal with Phoenix Books elicited barely a twitch of an eyebrow in these parts.
Blagojevich has been laying the foundation for a big cash-in on his predicament for weeks now, ever since his whirlwind media tour took him on the New York talk show rounds in January. We viewed that as his “infamy-to-celebrity” tour, when he sought to re-brand himself from mildly amusing regional political scoundrel to national media star of the future.
Sure, Blagojevich's inking of a tell-all book deal is shameless and shameful. Just consider: We are now less than five weeks away from the April 7 deadline for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to file an indictment against Blagojevich. That document will cover charges relating to his Dec. 9 arrest — those are the allegations that made Blagojevich a national media figure — and, we expect, will contain many more counts related to Fitzgerald’s years-long investigation of the Blagojevich administration.
It takes a special kind of shameless self-centeredness to focus on a literary advance when facing that kind of a legal barrage. But then, Rod Blagojevich is a special kind of guy.
And while we don’t like his attempt to cash in on a political career defined by scheming and ineptitude, we’ll put money on his as-yet-untitled tome quickly topping the bestseller list for Books Hidden in Illinois State Government Office Drawers and Briefcases.
Yes, the standard line this week has been to mock Blagojevich’s book-to-be as the work of a master prevaricator. Unless it’s printed on Charmin, went the popular wisdom, Blagojevich’s book will have no value whatsoever.
But six years as governor, three terms in Congress and four years in the Illinois House is bound to expose a person to some fascinating tales, some of which might even be true.
Remember when Jose Canseco was pilloried for his tell-all book about steroids in baseball? He was a washed-up has-been, said baseball fans and insiders. He was desperate for money. He had no credibility. A few years hence, it’s Major League Baseball that has the credibility problem.
We don’t think Blagojevich will find similar vindication in anything he writes short of a signature on a federal plea deal. He simply has too great a problem with the truth. But neither do we believe his book will gather dust on Illinois bookstore shelves, despite what Blagojevich’s former government colleagues may claim.
Good luck to Phoenix Books and its fact-checking department on Blagojevich’s book. They’ll be navigating a minefield of potential libel suits in their editing.
When Phoenix published Jayson Blair’s “Burning Down My Masters’ House: A Personal Descent Into Madness That Shook the New York Times,” it was handling the work of a confessed liar. In Blagojevich, we suspect they have a client for whom truth means anything that serves his own purpose.